The Crimson 




 She had given her heart to God in exchange for His thoughts


There was a palpable feeling of unease and a lack  of camaraderie in the Mess since each man was preoccupied with his own thoughts.   The war was in full swing and there was little reason to rejoice.    Fergal O'Flynn  wandered aimlessly about the area and listlessly picked up a dog-eared book which was lying about.    He flipped through it perfunctorily in order to quiet his troubled mind when his attention was grounded by the pencillled - in reflections on its margins.    

 'To thine own self be true and it must follow as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man',


'They can because they think they can'

 followed by  

'One must not preach a sermon with his voice; one must preach it with his life'.    

On and on it went and Fergal lapped up every word of it with avidity.   Turning back to its flyleaf he read in the same handwriting and in bold letters the following :   Sophie Stone phone xxxxxxx.  

     Why not

 he thought, and on the spur of an Irish mad moment he picked up the phone. 

Fergal's sea-blue eyes sheltered under an appealing, wayward golden fringe and he was every mother's dream child and gift from God.  Coming from a rural village in Connemara in the west of Ireland, where half the inmates were wordsmiths, the comments resonated deeply in his lonely soul - sure, didn't Rowdie the shoemaker give you the whole four verses of

'The Old Priest Father Gilligan '

at one blast while he heeled and toed your boots, and didn't Pegeen chime in with 'The Daffodils' never to be outdone by any man and above all, by 'The Cobbler'.  Yes, these comments found a ready home in Fergal's hungry heart.  He was a Celtic dreamer of dreams.  

Twenty six year old Sophie Stone at the other end was unfazed by this call.    Svelte, soignee and chic with a riveting personality she had experienced a great conversion to Christianity in her nineteenth year.    She had given her heart to God in exchange for His thoughts and so every spiritual word she uttered 'went home'

They established an immediate rapport which over the next six months blossomed into something very special.     Adamantly, she refused to send her photo and eventually they set a date for their first encounter.

They would meet at the ticket bureau at the 49th street, New York train station at 6p.m. on Wednesday the lOth October.  She would be wearing a crimson rose, and coming off the Boston train.    All going according to plan, God Willing.

Fergal resplendent and truly magnificent in full uniform was in a ferment of anxiety.  What if, what if, what if... Wow! - The most gorgeous woman he had ever seen was coming towards him.    She was dressed in emerald green but no...alas! alas! there was no rose.  Amazingly, she cast a hasty glance in his direction but walked grandly by.  His heart missed many beats.   Immediately following in her footsteps there came striding along a feisty-looking, formidable, wholesome woman with no pretentions to beauty whatsoever but on her lapel, there reposed a crimson rose of such enormous proportions it could compete any time, any day, any way, with the cabbages in his mother's cottage garden.  Momentarily, Fergal's pure heart fell, but being the true gentleman that he was, with outstretched arms he ran towards her.   With an arrogant raised fist he was restrained : 

My dear boy

this rose does not belong to me.  

I was asked to wear it for the gorgeous

lady in green. 


 she is standing behind you and she is now wearing the most welcoming and expansive smile

I have ever seen in this doggoned, crazy

New York town. 


 'My thoughts are not your thoughts

 nor my ways your ways

 as high as the heavens are above the earth 

so high are my ways above your ways

 my thoughts above your thoughts' says the Lord.

How small our thoughts can be and poor our ways of seeing and judging.

We think miserly thoughts and act in miserly ways.  


Because we have small minds and small hearts.

Lord, open our minds and enlarge our hearts 

so that we think more like you , and act more like you.

Let us not to begrudge your goodness to others 

knowing that we too are undeserving of your favours


 stand more in need of your mercy than of your justice.


Serve one another with whatever gift one has received.   ( St. Peter).


Give me faith Lord! The faith to help others. (Leo Tolstoy).


The Ballad of Father Gilligan.

The old priest Peter Gilligan / was weary night and day / for half his flock were in their beds / or under green sods lay / once while he nodded in a chair at the moth-hour of the eve / another poor man sent for him / and he began to grieve.

I have no rest, nor joy nor peace / for people die and die; and after cried he, 'God forgive!' my body spake not I !  He knelt and leaning on the chair / he prayed and fell asleep / and the moth-hour went from the fields / and the stars began to peep / they slowly into millions grew / and leaves shook in the wind and God covered the world with shade / and whispered to mankind.

Upon the time of sparrow's chirp / when the moths came once more / the old priest Father Gilligan stood upright on the floor/' mavrone, mavrone ! the man has died while I slept in the chair ' / he roused his horse out of its sleep / and rode with little care. 

He rode now as he never rode / by rocky lane and fen / the sick man's wife opened the door / 'Father, you come again !' / and is the poor man dead? he cried/ 'He died an hour ago / the old priest Peter Gilligan / in grief swayed to and fro/ 'when you were gone he turned and died / as merry as a bird / the old priest Peter Gilligan / he knelt Him at that word.

He who has made the night of stars / for souls who tire and bleed / sent one of His great angels down / to help me in my need / He Who is wrapped in purple robes / with people in His care / had pity on the least of things / asleep upon a chair.                

William Butler Yeats.   ( 1865 - 1939 ). 

At a rough guess I think this lovely poem is referring to the Irish Potato Famine of 1845/5O.   One million people died in Ireland of starvation and two million emigrated to America.

   What a wonderful illustration-as in the case of the angel- of the comforting tenet : ' and it is HE who will take care of all your needs...'

( Phil. 4 - 19 ).


Seadna the Cobbler's story, written in 19O7 by An tAthar Peader Ua Laoghaire (1839-192O).

(Father Peter O'Leary -  Irish Gaelic).

Every child who was educated in Ireland in the nineteen thirties, forties, and fifties will be interested in reading Seadna (pronounced Shay-na) once more.

Bi fear ann fad o agus ise ainim a bi air na Seadna.  Bi tig beag, deas clutar aige ag bun cnuic, ar taob na fotana.  Bi cataoir sugain aige do din se fein, do fein, agus ba gnat leis sui inti um tratnona, nuair a biod obair an lae criocnuite, agus nuair a suide se inti biod se ar a sastact.  

Direct translation from the Irish:

There was a man there once whose name was Shay-na.  He had a small, beautiful little house under a hill near the road. He had a sugan chair which he made himself, for himself.  And when he would sit on it, when the day's work had been done, he would be happy.


And why not, when his soul was at peace!


Nano Nagle - Woman of the Year - Ireland .


"Who would have guessed a Cork woman would win? Well Nano Nagle's victory was greeted with surprise all over the island, except of course in her native Cork where we are already aware that we produce only the finest females.  

Nano Nagle was born during the penal laws (17th cent.) to a wealthy family in Killavullen near Mallow, County Cork, Ireland. Despite the harshness of a neighbour's rule against Catholics, her folks managed to get her into a hedge school , (in plain Irish, under a hedge), where classes took place in secret. 

She was educated further in France but returned to Cork with a mission to help the poor by setting up schools and educating smallies.   Her first was in Cove Lane where she set up her own religious order : the Presentation Sisters.

Bear in mind that these schools were illegal and Nano risked execution.  By the time she died the order was answering calls from Bishops all over the world to come to their dioceses and build schools".

The collective gene for hospitality in Ireland always triumphs over political grievances.

Praise God for that ! 


  An emerald green space with a patina of  folklore, a lava-flow of rhetoric, 'running laughter' and the murmur of music.

Failte romat isteac !


Anita Kilbride-Jones,

St. Paul's Bay,



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